T Nation

Barbell Rows Are Bad?

I have been reading on this site for a while now, even though this is my first post on this forum.

When I read todays article I saw that barbell rows have gotten a bad rep lately, which brings me to my question: Why? I have found this exercise as one of the, if not the best, back builders out there. Are we going to replace it with seated cable rows, or what?

I’m sure a lot of people dont consider it functional enough. I, however, think it’s the best back builder…better than chins or deads

funny you mention this.
ive been thinkin about how much they were lacking in my routine. only reason i haven’t been doing them is because i like to keep my back fresh for deads and squats

[quote]ZeusNathan wrote:
funny you mention this.
ive been thinkin about how much they were lacking in my routine. only reason i haven’t been doing them is because i like to keep my back fresh for deads and squats[/quote]

You actually hit the nail on the head with your answer… probably without even knowing it! Bent-over rows demand a lot out of the lower back, glutes, quads and hamstrings simply to maintain a proper lifting posture.

If you are training other big compound movements involving these muscles (any form of deadlift or squat) in the same session, it could hinder your performance. Or if you perform the bent-over row after deads and/or squats then the fatigue in the lower back/glutes will hinder the performance and safety of the bent over row.

If you are training the BOR in a ‘‘back only’’ workout where no other exercises involve the lower back and glutes, it is less problematic. The only downside is that, according to Coach Poliquin, since more muscles are involved in the lift less of the neural impulse can be used to activate the upper back muscles which would lead to a lesser recruitment of the high threshold motor units of the lats.

In my experience some peoples will do great on this movement, other will not. Like everything, it’s an individual matter.

Barbell rows are a great exercise, but nothing wrong with a bit of variation too.

Yeah, it’s definitely an individual thing. I hate them with a passion, I’ve tried doing 10 sets of them to failure and the next day my lats aren’t even sore or stiff. DB & Chest supported rows however absolutely fry my lats.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
ZeusNathan wrote:
funny you mention this.
ive been thinkin about how much they were lacking in my routine. only reason i haven’t been doing them is because i like to keep my back fresh for deads and squats

You actually hit the nail on the head with your answer… probably without even knowing it! Bent-over rows demand a lot out of the lower back, glutes, quads and hamstrings simply to maintain a proper lifting posture.

If you are training other big compound movements involving these muscles (any form of deadlift or squat) in the same session, it could hinder your performance. Or if you perform the bent-over row after deads and/or squats then the fatigue in the lower back/glutes will hinder the performance and safety of the bent over row.

If you are training the BOR in a ‘‘back only’’ workout where no other exercises involve the lower back and glutes, it is less problematic. The only downside is that, according to Coach Poliquin, since more muscles are involved in the lift less of the neural impulse can be used to activate the upper back muscles which would lead to a lesser recruitment of the high threshold motor units of the lats.

In my experience some peoples will do great on this movement, other will not. Like everything, it’s an individual matter.[/quote]

For example, on the WS4SB program, day 1 max effort upper body.
A good time for BB rows as no other lower back/glutes exercise is performed that day.

I find that I get more out of DB rows myself.

[quote]rsg wrote:
Barbell rows are a great exercise, but nothing wrong with a bit of variation too.[/quote]

Agreed. I think it is bad that they somehow are now seen as negative based on an article. I doubt Dorian Yates, Lee Haney, or Ronnie Coleman would agree.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
rsg wrote:
Barbell rows are a great exercise, but nothing wrong with a bit of variation too.

Agreed. I think it is bad that they somehow are now seen as negative based on an article. I doubt Dorian Yates, Lee Haney, or Ronnie Coleman would agree.[/quote]

Seconded. My back didn’t start getting wider until I put in BB rows.

A little while back i dropped deadlifting and started using bent over rowing instead, and my back has grown significantly, it may be my favorite back builder

[quote]Professor X wrote:
rsg wrote:
Barbell rows are a great exercise, but nothing wrong with a bit of variation too.

Agreed. I think it is bad that they somehow are now seen as negative based on an article. I doubt Dorian Yates, Lee Haney, or Ronnie Coleman would agree.[/quote]

Arnold shaking his head was the first thing I pictured.

[quote]AccipiterQ wrote:
Yeah, it’s definitely an individual thing. I hate them with a passion, I’ve tried doing 10 sets of them to failure and the next day my lats aren’t even sore or stiff. DB & Chest supported rows however absolutely fry my lats. [/quote]

This actually brings up an interesting question for me. I find these don’t give me muscle soreness either. When I am doing them I can’t really feel my biceps working or my back despite the fact I keep very strict form and I am bent over parallel to the floor. Anybody else get this?

For me is certainly makes my upper back and between the shoulder blades sore, but man do I hate that exercise. I do deads, squats, pullups, military press, all the big lifts, but that is one that I just do not like doing. Having said that I still do it on occasion, but single arm DB rows are what I’ll usually substitute instead, I feel I can keep better form and get a better stretch on my back when I do these in comparison to BO BB rows.

I find BB rows really difficult to keep good form. Any tips?

[quote]anthropocentric wrote:
I find BB rows really difficult to keep good form. Any tips?[/quote]

Yes, keep doing them.

I like doing BB rows for low reps and then doing seated machine rows for high reps.

That’s right! I said machine rows.

[quote]Dirty Tiger wrote:

That’s right! I said machine rows.[/quote]

GASP!!!

[quote]jdrannin1 wrote:
I’m sure a lot of people dont consider it functional enough. I, however, think it’s the best back builder…better than chins or deads[/quote]

I never got that function bollocks…

I have trained with weights with a bodypart based style of training since i was a kid.
I have brought up my strength to a level slightly above most who don’t train i believe… so i get asked to do all sorts… dig, lift couches etc… any physical labouring.
And i find it “easy” in comparison to others who don’t train, that is my strength is just as functional as it could be and i don’t train for “function”.

I simply, from my own experience, do not believe in functional training other than drills etc for sport specific stuff. Maybe deadlift if you wanna call it functional. i just hate the word now, and all the twats who think they know what they mean…

(i met a guy in the gym today, and he was telling me the benefits of a Deadlift on functional movements and Rehab. etc. Then he proceeded to DL without leaning forward! He kept his back vertical to the floor and moved the bar around his knees!
I asked if i could give him a tip… did a quick tutorial as i would have with a client and he thanked me for 5 mins straight!.. then explained he was a PT and he had read in many BOOKS how to DL for 15YEARS!! and was surprised that he had missed the form… THAT IS THE PROBLEM RIGHT THERE… i feel sick re-hashing this).

Joe

[quote]Joe Brook wrote:
jdrannin1 wrote:
I’m sure a lot of people dont consider it functional enough. I, however, think it’s the best back builder…better than chins or deads

I never got that function bollocks…

I have trained with weights with a bodypart based style of training since i was a kid.
I have brought up my strength to a level slightly above most who don’t train i believe… so i get asked to do all sorts… dig, lift couches etc… any physical labouring.
And i find it “easy” in comparison to others who don’t train, that is my strength is just as functional as it could be and i don’t train for “function”.

I simply, from my own experience, do not believe in functional training other than drills etc for sport specific stuff. Maybe deadlift if you wanna call it functional. i just hate the word now, and all the twats who think they know what they mean…

(i met a guy in the gym today, and he was telling me the benefits of a Deadlift on functional movements and Rehab. etc. Then he proceeded to DL without leaning forward! He kept his back vertical to the floor and moved the bar around his knees!
I asked if i could give him a tip… did a quick tutorial as i would have with a client and he thanked me for 5 mins straight!.. then explained he was a PT and he had read in many BOOKS how to DL for 15YEARS!! and was surprised that he had missed the form… THAT IS THE PROBLEM RIGHT THERE… i feel sick re-hashing this).

Joe[/quote]

You’re preaching to the choir here Joe. :wink:

As far as barbell rows being “bad”. I honestly had never heard that prior to CT mentioning it in his recent article.

When I first started training I did just one exercise for my back, and that was bent-over BB rows. I had read that many, including Arnold felt that it was the single best back mass builder. Who was I to argue with Arnold?

And low and behold, it put substantial mass on my back. Yes, later on I did start incorporating other back movements (variations of pull-ups, T-bars, deads, shrugs, etc…). But I still feel that bent-over BB rows are right up there with the best back mass builders to this day.

I did a lot of bend BB rowing but never really felt soreness or pump in the back. Some days ago I tried a row machine and the feeling was great.

In my opinion it’s really not about moving the weight up but squeezing the back really hard.